Make Architecture



#11 – Final Project Redux

My final project has developed out of the research JD and I did with the lightbulbs a few weeks ago – I’m very excited about the potential of integrating actual light into the lightbulb shape, as well as using the shape actively…

I’m inspired by the wall tiling system here: Satin Sheet, but Heather Roberge, particularly because of the pattern that is variable across the tile and which can change significantly depending on how the tile is rotated.

you can see here how depending on which way the tile is rotated, you can achieve really varying and interesting patterning results.

Here is the final wall installation demonstration:

so… and I know this is exciting, so stay with me here, so what if those ridges you see in the tiles were actually representing wires, and the configurability of the tiling was actually the configurability of a circuit… !

AND, what if the joint between the tiles actually held them together in an active way, as well as having some kind of symbolic value in terms of what is being powered… like a lightbulb!

so in this scheme we have three parts: the tile itself, containing wires that travel obvious and visible paths…, the joint piece, a triangle that holds three tiles together at a time. This ensures that the whole construction fits together and provides a base to screw the lightbulbs into that will ensure that they line up at the correct contact points for their circuitry needs. … and the lightbulb, which is cast out of either the soft flexible foam or a flexible translucent plastic material with LEDs inside, as well as the proper wiring to contact bands around its perimeter.

The exciting thing is that depending on the configuration and rotation of each of the tiles in the wall, different lights will light up when the thing is turned on.

OH- and this is going to be self-powering. I’m going to cast one of my hand-crank-generator cell-phone-chargers into one of the tiles, and this will power the whole thing, and basically be where all the circuits come together. There may need to be a few of these different powering pieces. There will also be an on/off switch so that you can reconfigure the wall, put it back together and then turn it on and see the result of the changed circuitry.

Parts List:

1. For the Hexagonal tile:

-CNC cut molding base – basically the whole shape of the major tile, with contour cuts to get the smooth ridging for the wiring on the surface.

-OOMOO 30 (quite a bit of it) – to cast the CNC base into. Another option is to do this on the Vacuformer, but I’m concerned that the vacuformer size is too small for a 1:1 scale of a wall system…

-wire. Lots of it. Well, maybe just a roll will do – to embed in the tiles.

-Foam-It 5 Pourable Rigid Foam (or similar rigid foam) – I think it’s important that all the components in this be super light. I haven’t had much success with the rigid foam yet, but I also haven’t tried it with an OOMOO mold, so I suspect I’ll get more reliable results with that.

-conductive strips – either fabric or thin metal bands (probably at hardware store? Something flat) for the contact points on the edges of the tiles.

1B. for the Power Tile:

3x hand-crank generators

3x push-button switches

2. for the joint piece:

-CNC cut molding base – just for the outer formwork… the inner formwork needs to be properly threaded lightbulbs, so I’ll just insert bulbs during the positive casting process.

–  OOMOO negative cast of the positive cast into the CNC formwork – this will be the “mold machine” for my joint.

-SMOOTH-CAST white plastic (maybe with some dye) for this piece – It needs to be smooth and hard and easy to screw the lightbulbs into.

3. for the lightbulbs:

– OOMOO Lightbulb mold machine – with easy guides for how to insert the wiring and LEDs into it.

-FlexFoam-IT X: or similar OR Bioplastic made from ingredients at home. I have a dream that this will work, but the youtube tutorials for bioplastic make it look like the final product is quite gelatinous and not reliable in a casting situation. I plan to experiment with this exciting, cheap, and recyclable plastic product.


-LEDs – three or four individual ones per bulb… alternatively, I could take apart something that has LEDs in it, but I think for the clarity of the concept and the cleanness of the look, it would be best to just wire them individually into the lightbulb.

-conductive strip. For the contact point bands between the tile and the lightbulb.


Fri 5/14: production begins – final design and 3d modeling of components for fabrication on the ShopBot.

Mon 5/17: Shop Bot cutting of parts, mold making, preparation and testing of electrical parts

Tues, Weds 5/18-19: Production, Assembly, Testing, Troubleshooting

Thurs: Any final fixes/ parts / needs; Documentation, Presentation Preparation


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


Instructor: Nick Gelpi TA: Skylar Tibbits TA: Varvara Toulkeridou
Class Times, Monday, 1-4pm - room 5-216
4.184 is an intensive introduction to methods of making explored through a wide range of brief but focused 1-week exercises. We'll engage the real and leave behind representation in the focused context of this class gaining skills for utilizing a range of fabrication machines and technologies from lasercutting, waterjet, 3D printing, welding, formworking-molding, casting, gears, joints and composites.
In this workshop we'll constrain ourselves to the territory of the 1:1. Students will represent architectural constructions at full scale and develop a more intimate relationship with technology by engaging the tools and techniques that empower us. We will gain access to the most cutting edge machines and technologies in the MARS lab at the Center for Bits and Atoms.
The second layer of information for this course will be to look at a series of case studies in which construction methods and technologies have played a dominant role in the design process .
Over the past 20 years, architects have focused on the technology of representation to create new ideas of what architecture could be. Looking back today, much of that research failed to substantially change the way we design buildings by focusing on apriori formal configurations. This class makes the contention that this failure comes from a lack of considerations of the potentials within fabrication knowledge. We look to the future of what building might become, given the expanded palette of personalize-able technologies available to us as architects. Students will participate in curious technological and material investigations, to discover the potentials, known and unknown, for these various technologies.
The sub-disciplines of what's drawn and what's built have been compartmentalized and disassociated as the representational tools of architecture have distanced themselves from the techniques of making. At the same time the technologies for “making” in architecture have provided us with new possibilities for reinventing how we translate into reality, the immaterial representations of architecture.


%d bloggers like this: